Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technolgy, Atlanta, Georgia and Electronics Engineering Department, Isik University, Istanbul, Turkey, developed this tiny chip (approximately 1.5 mm) on a flexible catheter (about 430 microns) that will allow heart surgeons to view a complete real-time 3-D image of heart and blood vessel blockages and allow the surgeons to attend to them as necessary. This chip provides better imaging than current technology because it is capable of using higher frequencies to produce the images.
According to the Georgia Tech News Center website,
The device integrates ultrasound transducers [capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducer (CMUT) arrays] with processing electronics [front-end CMOS electronics technology] on a single 1.4 millimeter silicon chip. On-chip processing of signals allows data from more than a hundred elements on the device to be transmitted using just 13 tiny cables, permitting it to easily travel through circuitous blood vessels. The forward-looking images produced by the device would provide significantly more information than existing cross-sectional ultrasound.
Researchers have developed and tested a prototype able to provide image data at 60 frames per second, and plan next to conduct animal studies that could lead to commercialization of the device.
It was February 2014 when this information was first released and I was unable to find any updates about the researchers’ endeavors. Hopefully, they have made great progress and are well on their way toward making this available in the near future.
If you are more technically inclined and would like to read about the details of this chip, the researchers originally published their information in the journal IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control: Gokce Gurun, et al., “Single-Chip CMUT-on-CMOS Front-end System for Real-Time Volumetric IVUS and ICE Imaging,” (IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, 2014). (http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/TUFFC.2014.6722610).
You can also read about the details for free from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, PubMed Central website: Coskun Tekes (corresponding author), Jaime Zahorian, Toby Xu, Muhammad W. Rashid, Sarp Satir, Gokce Gurun, Mustafa Karaman, Jennifer Hasler, and F. Levent Degertekin., “CMUT-based Volumetric Ultrasonic Imaging Array Design for Forward Looking ICE and IVUS Applications,” PubMed Central, 2014. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4123197/).